Friday, 4 February 2011

Rio Velez, Malaga Province and Venta de Zafarraya area, Granada Province.

Coast and mountains.

Jayne and myself set off down to coast at Torre del Mar via a market / car boot at Puente Don Manuel (or Little Britain). After picking up a few bits and pieces we continued on to the coast where I dropped Jayne off for a wander around the town while I went and had a look at the Rio Velez. The site was fairly quiet on the bird front but on the way down to the beach I picked up a single Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), some nice flocks of Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) with some handsome male birds, Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus). Just before the beach I met a French birder looking out over the river, we chatted and then made our way down to the beach (I am always happier when there are other birders around at this site!). The sea was quiet but on the pool behind the beach there was a single winter plumage Grey Plover (Chorlito Gris / Pluvialis squatarola), several White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and a Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago). On the sea there were a couple of Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Northern Gannet (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus), lots of Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) and Mediterranean Gulls (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), a single Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis) and Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo). On the walk back up to the car a small, very noisy group of Monk Parakeets (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus) flew over head and several Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula) and Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) were in full song. Other birds seen along the river included Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis). Back at the car I was packing the kit away when I heard a call that I had not heard for some time and quickly located in the tree above my head a fine male Siskin (Carduelis spinus), probably bird of the morning.
I picked Jayne up and we went and had a very nice lunch at one of the more Spanish of the fish restaurants just back off the sea front. On the way home we stopped at the disused railway line just on the boarder of Malaga and Granada Province above Venta de Zafarraya. I was about 50 meters from the tunnel entrance when I heard a Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus) screeching and mobbing two Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) up by the large cave in the cliff. On the rocks below the crags I added 2 male Blue Rock Thrushes (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), a pair of Black Wheatears (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and 6x Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) to the list. Over head there were also a pair of Common Kestrels and a flock of about 50 Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) flew in from the crag on the opposite side of the road. Just as I was about to walk back to the car a male Black Wheatear flew up and showed well on a rock quite close by, while I was watching this bird a rusty flash flew through my bins. On the same rock the Wheatear had been joined by a small flock of 3 Alpine Accentors (Acentor Alpino / Prunella modularis), well pleased I walked back to the car. We continued on, stopping briefly on the fields further to wards Alhama de Granada seeing loads of Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), a few each of Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Thekla (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus). In the Oak woods on the way home we finished the day with several Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), a couple of Southern Grey Shrikes (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and good views of the Stone-curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) flock near the house.
Photographs from the top: Grey Plover (Chorlito Gris / Pluvialis squatarola).

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